Administrative assistant Lisa Keereweer had arranged the annual Spirit Week at Xavier High School.
Then came the coronavirus. And shortly thereafter came Keereweer's response. The school might have been shut down, but Spirit Week was not. We're still having it, she said, just in the virtual world. The coronavirus will not squash our spirit.
Some of the themes were dressing in beach attire, showing off USA colors, wearing Xavier apparel. The beach attire came on Tuesday. On Monday, as the flakes flew, some enterprising people got ahead of the game and posed in beach attire in the white stuff, snow not sand, and some found both.
This was yet another example of how Xavier was adapting to the coronavirus restrictions. There were no limitations, no restrictions, on being inventive and creative.
"I hope that virtual Spirit Week is giving everyone a chance to relax and have a little fun in this craziness," Keereweer said. "We all need to take a minute to smile right now. I miss seeing the students every day, so this is certainly helping me out."
All across the Xavier community, students and parents, faculty and staff, were adapting to the situation, staying as closely knitted as possible. Here are just a few of the many things going on.
- Headmaster Dave Eustis has been emailing multiple communications to parents keeping them as up to date as possible. He also updated the alumni, a vital part of the Xavier family. Wrote back one parent: "We appreciate all the communication ... it's the feeling that we are part of a community and need to stay in touch with one another ... a very genuine feeling of belonging to something greater."
- Campus Ministry Director Peter Lyons has been sending out short videos, which have been uplifting in their messages and giving students something to think about. "Who is the person in your life that needs help right now?" was one question Lyons posed [he did the video in a beach chair by a pond with snow on the ground].
- Principal Brendan Donohue wanted to keep alive the Xavier tradition of starting each day in prayer, so that arrives in the in box of students, parents, faculty and staff each morning. Brother Philip Revell, C.F.X., has provided the prayers and links to Masses.
- The faculty and students have adapted well to online teaching. A survey sent to parents and guardians showed that online learning was going very well after the first week. The faculty will have a virtual professional development day on Monday to give them even more tools. It will still be a school day for students but they will not have new lessons, giving them a chance to catch their breath and catch up on work. "The teachers care about every student," wrote one parent.
- Students have not only shared photos for such things as spirit week, but one senior suggested an Instagram story highlighting what colleges the graduating class will be attending. That is something that will happen.
- Director of Educational Technology Kelsey Doherty sent to students, parents and guardians a video concerning PowerPoint Movies files teachers have been using to deliver daily lessons.
- The Guidance Department and Campus Ministry sent a letter to students and parents providing practical advice for weathering this storm. It incorporated taking care of your mind, body and spirit, the hallmarks of a Xavier education. Keep a routine because school is still on, just in a different format. Get some regular exercise. Stay in touch with friends. Continue to say Grace before meals just like you would at lunchtime in the dining hall at school. These were but a few of the tips.
- Dean of students Nick Cerreta sent a letter to students, telling them to reach out to him for whatever they might need. "Even though we are not gathering as a community like we are so used to doing on a daily basis, I know our community is alive and well around the state ... bring as much joy as you can to those you still interact with."
Xavier High School is a private, all-boys Catholic high school in Middletown, CT., and a Xaverian Brothers Sponsored School.